The Dears release a live record as their documentary airs across Canada

Montreal rock perennials the Dears squeeze their sprawling history and widescreen sound onto your TV screen and capture the energy of a key gig in Mexico City

The Dears

Nearly a year before the Dears released their 2011 record Degeneration Street, they played a residency in Mexico City, three shows that keyboardist/singer Natalia Yanchak refers to as “pre-production” for their fifth LP. Months later, they booked a series of three-night residencies in Brooklyn, Toronto and here in their hometown, but they went south first because Mexico is home to their most fervent fanbase.

You can hear the manic devotion on their new release, The Dears Live in Pasagüero, and you can also see it in the self-produced documentary Never Destroy Us: The Dears at Pasagüero, airing this weekend as part of the CBC’s Absolutely Canadian series. (Full disclosure: I’m one of the talking heads in the documentary, because I’ve written about the Dears regularly for over a decade, even in book form. Also, one of the band members was the officiant at my wedding. Just sayin’.) Here’s the trailer:

The Live in Pasagüero record isn’t the band’s first live album. Back in 2004, they released Thank You Goodnight Sold Out, an album Yanchak describes as “more deliberate,” with a conventional set list that spanned their catalogue.

By contrast, this one features early live renditions of what were then brand new songs, as they were being felt out and road-tested by the band. The songs were played in what would come to be the sequence of Degeneration Street, and although the live record doesn’t feature the entirety of the main set, it does include some of the classic Dears cuts from the encores.

Each of the Mexican shows was shot in beautiful black and white by Michael Mohan, and there’s a wealth of that footage in the documentary and in this video for “Omega Dog.” And while you’ll see images from all three gigs on film, the band took a different tack with the live album.

“[The residency] was three different shows and three different audiences, with different vibes on stage,” Yanchak explains. “We culled the material from the live recording from one show — the third night, the Saturday night show — because we wanted to capture the energy of one night. It wasn’t so important to us that this is the most perfect thing ’cause clearly it’s not the most perfect performance technically or musically. It’s a great show, but there’s a rawness there.”

Although there are a few new songs in the making, “Dears World” is quiet right now because Yanchak gave birth less than a month ago to her second child with Dears singer Murray Lightburn. Apart from what promises to be an epic show tomorrow by the band’s guitarist Patrick Krief (as simply Krief, he released a mighty impressive solo LP earlier this year, entitled Hundred Thousand Pieces), the only gig in the cards is an acoustic performance by Lightburn and Krief down in Mexico City in a couple of weeks, coupled with a screening of the documentary.

“Bringing all this material back to where it was created; that’s going to be pretty cool,” Yanchak says.

Full circle. ■

The Dears Live in Pasagüero is out tomorrow on Pheromone Recordings.
Never Destroy Us: The Dears at Pasagüero airs on CBC on Saturday, Dec. 1, 12 p.m. ET
Krief plays with opener Coco Méliès at Lion d’Or (1676 Ontario E.), on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 9 p.m., $17.25

Leave a Reply